The price of small onions in the city — currently a whopping Rs. 75 per kg — may come down by half over the next ten days after the imports from Karnataka arrive.

Just as the price of sambar (small) onions has soared beyond the reach of many families, wholesale traders in the city have some good news. The price of small onions will see a gradual downtrend over the next 10 days as arrivals are expected from Karnataka soon.

Wholesale price of small onions has touched Rs. 75 per kg and the retail price is Rs. 5 to Rs. 10 higher. The price of onions has steadily been on the rise from Rs. 45 a kg in April to the current level. Droughts and heavy export demand have been cited as the reasons for the price rise.

Arrivals have reduced to a trickle at Gandhi Market, the wholesale market, which caters to most of the retailers in Tiruchi and its neighbouring districts. Normally, the market gets about 25 truckloads a day. Currently, less than five truckloads are procured by traders now. Fearing poor off-take at current price, many wholesale traders are hesitant to lift stocks.

Hoteliers — the bulk buyers — have been forced to go in for Bellary (big) onions instead of small onions.

But consumers could get some relief in the days to come. “We expect arrivals from Karnataka, especially from Chamrajnagar district, over the next days. Small onions do not have much demand there and a major portion of the production will find its way to Tamil Nadu and some to Kerala. Once the arrivals pick up, we expect the price to come down by about 50 per cent,” A. Thangaraj, General Secretary, Tiruchi Onion Commission Mandi Traders’ Association, told The Hindu on Wednesday.

There are possibilities of the price coming down to Rs. 30 a kg in about 20-25 days as arrivals from Perambalur and Tiruchi districts are also expected. The hike has spurred some farmers in Thanjavur into raising small onions now. Small onions have risen in places such as Thiruvaiyaru and Thirukattupalli, he said.

Perambalur and Tiruchi are the major onion producing districts of the State. The crop is raised on over 8,000 hectares in Perambalur district and on about 4,000 hectares in Tiruchi district. But the lack of rain has forced many onion growers to put off cultivation.

The increase has been a cause for concern and wholesale traders in the city have been demanding restrictions on exports. “There would be a hue and cry if the price of Bellary onions were to go up. But nobody bothers about small onions,” Mr.Thangaraj said.

But the price of Bellary onion is on the rise in recent days, up from Rs.15 to Rs.20 a kg in the city's wholesale market. This again is due to heavy export demand. There are no standing crops as of now and the stocks available with producers are finding its way to the market. Unless the Centre steps in to restrict exports, the price of big onions will double over the next 30 days, he said.